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Gift Brings Dream of New Bookstore to Life


Feb. 11, 2010

Averett University announced today the receipt of a $525,000 gift to convert a house at 354 West Main Street into a new university bookstore. The gift, given by a friend of the university who wishes to remain anonymous, will allow Averett to refurbish the two-story home located at the corner of West Main Street and Woodland Drive, turning the 7,000 square-foot property into a bookstore the entire community can enjoy.

"We are extremely grateful that the generosity of a donor has made this bookstore possible not only for our academic community but for our city," said Dr. Tiffany Franks, Averett president. "This is an excellent example of the widespread impact a contribution to a university like Averett can make. A bookstore that is well-stocked and easily accessible not only supports the academic mission of our university, but also becomes a vital community resource."

Averett purchased the house, which is not currently in use, in 2005. According to Franks, this recent gift will allow work on the structure to begin this month. The work will include landscaping and repair of the grounds. Plans call for the bookstore to be open by fall 2010.

An additional $165,000 in funding for renovation and furnishings has been committed by Follett Higher Education Group-the company that will operate the new store. Follett currently manages more than 850 bookstores nationwide including bookstores at James Madison University, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and Notre Dame University.

Once complete, the store will include popular and scholarly reading materials along with Averett-related clothing and merchandise. Comfortable areas for reading and self-serve coffee will be included throughout the design.

"With more than 4,000 Averett graduates living and working in this region, we frequently hear from alumni who would like to show their school pride by purchasing Averett merchandise," Franks said. "Unfortunately, our current bookstore is located inside Main Hall and is not easily accessible to the public. We believe the new West Main Street location will create a true community space. It will serve, much like our new Student Center has, as a gathering place for neighbors and friends. It will be a great place to sit with a good book or some quiet conversation."

Franks notes that Averett has selected Lynchburg-based Craddock-Cunningham Architectural Partners as the project's architect. They were selected, in part, for their wealth of experience in historical restoration. She explains the university is committed to maintaining the historical quality of the house which is estimated to be more than 90 years old.